This year’s list of newly-elected Pro Football Hall of Famers has a definite 90s feel to it. Four of the players selected for enshrinement have rookie cards during that explosive decade of sports cards. Another first appeared on a trading card way back in 1961.
Here’s a quick roundup of each player’s rookie year cardboard.
Safety Johnny Robinson, who had AFL expert and long-time collector Todd Tobias heading a major lobbying effort for him, was finally elected after many years of waiting. Robinson, a key member of the great Chiefs teams of the 1960s and early 70s, was in 1961 Topps and Fleer, but also appeared in the rare 1960 7-11 Dallas Texans set (see link earlier in this paragraph).
His rookie cards have been seeing a boost for the last few days as it became clear he had a real shot to be elected. Only 11 of his PSA 9 Topps rookie cards exist, but you can expect more of these to be submitted for grading now that he’s in the Hall. The Fleer card shown above is more plentiful in high grade.
Gonzalez, who many consider to be the greatest tight end of all-time, has rookie cards in 1997, when the market was flooded with companies and sets. His Topps and Topps Chrome cards show him “dunking” a football over the crossbar of a goal post, which was already his signature touchdown celebration. His Playoff Contenders and SP Authentic rookies are also popular.
He’s got a few low serial numbered rookies, some of which have sold for several hundred dollars in recent years like Pinnacle Totally Certified Gold, numbered to 30.
Bailey’s 1999 rookie card roster is also a lengthy one. His Contenders Autographed Rookie Tickets and SP Authentic are two of the most sought after, but even high-grade examples don’t really sell for a lot.
Ty Law wasn’t forgotten during his 1995 rookie card year but the list includes only 11 cards including Upper Deck’s SP and SP Championship, Fleer Ultra, Bowman and Bowman’s Best. All are extremely low priced, even in high-grade with only a small number of documented sales that have surpassed $100.
Centers don’t get much trading card love and that holds true with Kevin Mawae, who is best known for his time with the New York Jets, but has five different main rookie cards as a Seahawk in 1994 (Bowman, Playoff, Stadium Club, Topps and Ultra). He also has a few cards from pre-Draft releases picturing him in his college uniform.
It’s the Bowman and Playoff Cards in Gem Mint 10 that can creep over $100, but otherwise, most are dirt cheap.
Ed Reed’s long career began in 2002, a time when parallels and higher end brands were becoming commonplace. His Topps Chrome rookie card in high grade tends to generate the most interest but those with on-card autographs in Upper Deck Sweet Spot Impressions (on a pebble grain football stock) and SP Authentic are both far better looking and neither is exceptionally pricey.